The Data Day at Euro 2020: No.8
Soccer

The Data Day at Euro 2020: No.8

Welcome to The Data Day, our daily Euro 2020 stats blog where we try and make sense of what just happened.


No Goals Please, we’re British

England’s youngest-ever starting XI at a major tournament ended up being one of their least effective in recent memory.

Wembley witnessed a goalless draw on Friday night, and while a point for England may have been acceptable in the world of group-stage football after opening the tournament with a win, it certainly wasn’t acceptable when stripped down to the raw realities of the oldest rivalry. In international football.

It was the first-ever goalless draw between England and Scotland in England, and it was Scotland’s first point in a major tournament since a 1-1 draw with Norway on June 16, 1998. 10 of England’s Euro 2020 squad hadn’t been born when that game took place. Like we said, it’s been a while.

EngScoxG

The first 45 minutes served up the better of the chances, with perhaps the best among them being John Stones’ free header from a Mason Mount corner on 11 minutes, but he put it firmly off the near post. Two minutes later Mount missed wide from the left side of the six-yard box after Raheem Sterling found him at the near post.

Scotland had the first chance of the match in the fourth minute with some combination play on the right side resulting in a Che Adams first-time shot blocked, perhaps signaling this wasn’t going to be as straightforward for England as some thought.

Scotland’s best, however, was the match’s first shot on target. It came in the 30th minute with a Stephen O’Donnell volley off a cross came from Kieran Tierney, forcing Jordan Pickford to get down to make a fantastic save from a shot that was headed for the far corner.

This was the first time England had failed to record a shot on target in the first half of a match at Wembley since a friendly against Germany in November 2017 and the first time in a competitive match since a Euro qualifier with Slovenia in November 2014.

England started the second half on the front foot with Mount’s near-post shot from the left side turned away by Marshall in the 48th minute, but it didn’t last. It was their first and last shot on target, and their lack of pace and consequential possession was evident for much of the match. Their 22 touches per match in the opponent penalty area puts them level with Switzerland and Russia for 10th in the tournament. Scotland, for the sake of comparison, are eighth at 24.

Harry Kane was subbed off in the 74th minute for Marcus Rashford after another ineffective performance. The England striker came off against Croatia, but that was in the 82nd minute with a 1-0 lead. Kane hasn’t produced at the expected level, finishing the first half with a match-low 10 touches and is yet to have a shot on target in the tournament. His 19 touches are the fewest he’s ever had for England in a game in which he played more than 45 minutes.

kane touches vs Scotland

Scotland have gone 180 minutes without a goal, joining Turkey as the only sides to have played two matches and not scored. The chances, however, have been slightly more promising. Their total xG ranks 10th at 2.65, but they’ll need to work that into at least one actual finish in their group stage denouement against Croatia if they want their tournament to continue.

For Group D, this means no one’s out of it. Scotland entered the tournament with a 35.5% chance to advance to the Round of 16, according to our tournament predictor. That’s now at 24.3. England have a 99.9% chance to progress, but their likelihood of winning the group stands at 55.6% down from 61.4 entering Euro 2020. Group D then: not much delight yet but no absolute disasters either.


Ivan the-not-so-Terrible

Croatia did not have a first half to write home about against the Czech Republic. A rash Dejan Lovren direct free-kick that sailed over the bar wasn’t ideal, while a harsh VAR-adjudicated Dejan Lovren foul on Patrik Schick that gave the Czechs a penalty and subsequently Schick his third goal of the tournament was a potential disaster. Hashtag-the-dark-horse-was-Schick-as-Golden-Boot-winner-all-along.

We will never know what Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said to his players at half-time in the bowels of Hampden Park, and most people won’t want to, but it clearly had an effect. The 2018 World Cup runners-up looked a little bit more like their normal selves after the break, most notably in the 47th minute when a quick free-kick taken by Andrej Kramaric, someone who technically won the Premier League title with Leicester in 2015-16, reached Ivan Perisic, who jinked into the box and curled a shot into the far side of the goal.

Perisic tends to reserve his best form for the national side, like a sort of Croatian Danny Welbeck. Today’s goal means he has scored in each the last four major tournaments and if you include Euro 2012, he has been involved in 12 goals (eight goals, four assists) for his country, making him the most productive player in Croatia’s major tournament history. Any opposing manager looking to shut him down should study the expected goals map below, because tournament penalty areas undeniably have a Perisic zone. Left hand side, cutting in. Watch out. Too late.

tournament Perisic

No one will claim that this game should be entered into the history books as a classic. It contained just three shots on target; only Germany v France has seen fewer so far in Euro 2020, and that one obviously had a couple of disallowed French goals that don’t count in the statistics.

Neither the Czech Republic nor Croatia will be disappointed by the result, though. A draw moves the Czechs on to four points and a probable last 16 place, while Croatia know that a win against Scotland in their final game should do the same. As such, our predictor has the Czechs with a 99.8% chance of reaching the next round, and Croatia on a more-than-hopeful 54%. Sometimes everyone needs a reminder that tournament football is more often about progression football than it is progressive football.


Slovakian Hopes Swe-dented

Sweden’s goalless draw against Spain was only going to be a great result if they could follow it up with a win in their second match against Slovakia. They did just that with a late penalty converted by Emil Forsberg, and now give themselves a 99.8% chance of progression to the Last 16 with only Poland to play.

Janne Andersson named an experienced line-up, with Sweden’s 11 players having an average age of 30 years and 78 days, becoming their second oldest in European Championship history. They used that experience to grind down a Slovakian side who showed little attacking intent but looked set to frustrate a Swedish attack until the penalty.

That spot-kick came with just 13 minutes left to play. There’s certainly something about second-half goals and Sweden in European Championships. 23 of their 26 goals in the tournament history have come after half-time (88%).

Sweden v Slovakia shot timeline

In truth this game only came alive in the 59th minute of the match. The eight shots before then were worth just 0.36xG, with the 14 shots afterwards being worth 2.21xG. These admittedly featured a penalty, but the point still stands. Sweden shifted up a couple of gears, while Slovakia stalled.

Alexander Isak Star of the Match versus Slovakia

Sweden’s 21-year-old forward Alexander Isak impressed again. This performance saw him tally six successful take-ons from six attempts – the most by any player at Euro 2020 so far and enough to secure the official ‘Star of the Match’ award from UEFA. In the two games they’ve played so far, it’s Isak that leads their numbers for non-penalty xG (0.91) and expected assists (1.48) – the latter figure being nearly six times that of any other Swedish player.

Slovakia came for a point and came away with nothing – a dangerous tactic with only Spain left to play. We still give them a 60.8% chance of getting through to the knockout stages, most likely as one of the best four third-placed teams in the group stage (77.6%).


The Battle of Britain

149 years after their first meeting in Glasgow, Wembley Stadium will host the 100th competitive fixture between rivals England and Scotland this evening.

We won’t go into the history of the fixture in this blog post, as it’s already been done here for you.

We won’t go into England’s creative use of throw-ins at Euro 2020 so far, as it’s already been done here for you.

We won’t tell you about how this is the first tournament meeting between the two sides since Euro 96, where Gazza scored his epic goal, as it’s already been done here for you.

But we will give you some predictive content from our match predictor.

england v scotland prediction

England have won all six of their matches in all competitions in 2021, which is only the third time they’ve won their opening six matches of a calendar year after 1909 and 1986. They have never won their first seven games in a year before, while the Three Lions last won seven consecutive games between September 2014 and March 2015 under Roy Hodgson. Despite this, our predictor thinks they will do it this time around, with England having a 75.5% chance of victory.

Scotland were unfortunate on the opening matchday against Czech Republic. We’ve all seen the phenomenal Patrik Schick strike from near the halfway line by now, and the Scots didn’t have luck on their side. They have the highest expected goals tally of any of the four sides in Group D so far (1.9) but were unable to convert any of their 19 attempts in their defeat to the Czechs in Glasgow.

The Czech Republic will be looking for a second win in Scotland to seal qualification to the knockout stages – they face Croatia at Hampden Park. Their MD1 match-winner Schick has been involved in 10 goals in his last nine starts for Czech Republic in all competitions (8 goals, 2 assists) and will be looking for more goals here. He attempted five of his nation’s seven shots on target in the opening match and will no doubt be a threat here.

croatia v czech republic prediction

Form is a worry for the Croatians. They have lost eight of their last 14 matches in all competitions (W4 D2) and could lose three games in a row for only the third time, also doing so in June 2006 and March 2021.

Croatia didn’t get going against England last Sunday, but their quality should not be underestimated. Our match predictor certainly doesn’t do this, giving them a 46.1% chance of victory in this match.

Sweden host Slovakia in the early match today, with the Slovaks looking to qualify from Group E with a victory after their win on the opening matchday against Poland. They have never won their opening two games at a major tournament before, but they come into this game on a six-game unbeaten run in all competitions (W2 D4), last going longer without defeat between October 2015 – June 2016 (a run of eight).

sweden v slovakia prediction

Despite this Slovakia form, Sweden will be buoyed with their draw against much-fancied Spain in the opening game. Despite completing just 89 passes to Spain’s 830, Sweden survived and even created some good scoring chances themselves. Everyone knows that it’ll be a completely different proposition today in this match, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Swedish adapt to a different style of opposition.

Our match predictor thinks they’ll pick up their first win of Euro 2020, with a 55.3% chance of victory in this one.